A guide to all the homegrown brands at Riyadh Fashion Week

A guide to all the homegrown brands at Riyadh Fashion Week
Honayda (left) and Abadia will both go on show at Riyadh Fashion Week. (Instagram)
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Updated 19 October 2023

A guide to all the homegrown brands at Riyadh Fashion Week

A guide to all the homegrown brands at Riyadh Fashion Week
  • From veteran designers to up-and-comers, Saudi designers are set to shine 

DUBAI: From Oct. 20-23, the highly-anticipated Riyadh Fashion Week is set to capture the attention of fashionistas from across the globe as 30 brands from the Kingdom — both veteran and up-and-coming — take to the runway in King Abdullah Financial District.  

The week will kick off with a gala dinner and a show by Ashi Studio. The next three days will see the cream of Saudi Arabia’s fashion scene showcase their latest collections. Here, we take a look at the participating brands.  

Oct. 21 (Couture shows)  

Single shows  

Adnan Akbar 

Dubbed the “first couture house of the Kingdom,” Akbar’s eponymous label — established in 1970 and billed as the Kingdom’s first couture house — is known for its ready-to-wear and haute-couture gowns, as well as luxurious wedding dresses. A mainstay at international fashion events since the Eighties, Akbar’s label helped pave the way for up-and-coming designers in the Kingdom, especially when it comes to haute couture.   

Tima Abid  

The Jeddah-born couturier has a career that goes back more than two decades. Abid says she likes to create luxury pieces that are inspired by the Kingdom’s natural landscapes.  

Yousef Akbar  

This award-winning contemporary eveningwear brand focuses on ethical and sustainable fashion for women.   

Atelier Hekayat 

Founded by sisters Abeer and Alia Oraif, Jeddah-based Atelier Hekayet has its sights set on going global. It’s already had a little help from Saudi 100 Brands, which took the duo's designs to the US last year.   

The brand’s mission is to “offer new meaning to Middle Eastern fashion through bold and contemporary designs that marry Saudi traditional female dress with the latest trends in international design.”   

Mixed shows  


Established in 2016 in the Eastern province by Shouq Almubarak, Pavone creates “designs inspired by nature and art.” 

Nour Al-Dhahri 

The eponymous luxury label aims to “revolutionize the cultural aspect of outerwear by creating bold and creative designs.”  

Fatima Abdulqader  

The eponymous label creates bespoke luxury bridal pieces and will showcase it newest collection this week.  

Dar Al-Hanouf 

Saudi designer Al-Hanouf Mazen Al-Qabasani founded Dar Al-Hanouf in 2012 as a high-end bridal couture atelier. It has become one of the top destinations for wedding attire in the Kingdom, known for its exceptional design and embroidery. To create her classic pieces, Al-Hanouf sources the finest French lace and haute-couture fabrics from companies across the world.  

Hala Algharbawi  

Hala Algharbawi is a Saudi fashion designer based in Berlin. She holds a master’s degree in fashion management from Rome Business School.. She likes to mix Eastern and Western cultures, creating a blend of “freedom, emancipation and traditional warmth.”   

Oct 22 (Womenswear)  

Single shows  


Fashion entrepreneur Shahd Al-Shehail, who hails from the Al-Ahsa region, runs an ethical luxury label that “marries traditional crafts with contemporary silhouettes for today’s urban nomads.” Sadu, the geometric weave characteristic of Bedouin societies across the Middle East, has been a mainstay of the line since it was launched in 2016.   


Celebrity-loved designer Honayda Serafi made headlines this year for designing the pre-wedding henna night gown for Saudi-born Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein, who tied the knot with Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II on June 1. Serafi’s passion for the culture and traditions of her homeland is communicated through her designs. Honayda is also the first Saudi label to be stocked at the prestigious London department store Harrods.   

Kaf by Kaf  

Founded by Kawthar Alhoraish, the label represents the Kingdom’s newest wave of contemporary brands looking to create pieces embedded in Saudi heritage. The label creates structured garments decorated with unique patterns that are inspired by the Kingdom.   

Arwa Albanawi  

The Dubai-based womenswear label, created by Jeddah-born creative Arwa Al-Banawi, makes unique pieces “for the woman on the go.” A former investment banker, Al-Banawi saw a gap in the market for womenswear that is both professional and fashion-forward. After studying at the London College of Fashion in Dubai, she launched her namesake brand in 2015.  

Mixed shows  


Founded by Saudi designer Salma Zahran, a graduate of Miami International University of Art & Design, the label aims to “set the tone for fashion in the region.” Her designs are for “women in the modern world — powerful and independent but also romantic and creative.”  

Yasmina Q 

Designer Yasmina Qanzal, who is based out of Jeddah and London, wants to build a brand that offers “thoughtfully created womenswear” while supporting skilled communities and utilizing eco-friendly practices operated by an all-woman team.  


A post shared by Yasmina Q (@_yasminaq_)

Eman Joharji  

The Saudi label “reimagines the abaya,” creating collections that combine tradition with modern elegance and design.  

Moja Majka  

Moja Majka, which means “my mother” in Montenegrin, is a slow-fashion label founded by mother-daughter duo Sureyya and Sarah Basaad in 2012.  Not basing their designs on trends, the duo follow their own intuition and authenticity, inspired mainly by heritage and nature.  

Mona Alshebil  

A luxury, minimalist, contemporary brand that “celebrates the success of women through feminine, timeless pieces” that consist of sophisticated, modern designs influenced by Saudi heritage.   

Nabila Nazer 

Creating timeless, modest pieces for the modern Middle Eastern woman, Nabila Nazer founded her eponymous label in 2007. She says her designs are characterized by “modesty, comfort and elegance.”  

Oct. 23 (Menswear)  

Single shows  


The menswear label — founded in 2002 by Loay Naseem and his wife Mona Al-Haddad — aims to create “contemporary designs that connect the past with the future.” The duo created the label with a mission to redesign Saudi thobes “to enable Saudi men to love what they wear and be proud and comfortable with their national dress.”  


Saudi entrepreneurs Fahad Al-Jomiah and Khalid Al-Jammaz conceived what they bill as the Kingdom’s first streetwear brand in their dorm rooms in London. 1886, now one of the trendiest names in the Saudi market, aims to “bridge fashion to the future by uniting the tradition of urban wear with tomorrow’s innovations and technical aesthetic,” the duo previously told Arab News.   


This modern comfort wear label, predominantly focused on creating unisex designs, was founded by Riyadh-based designer Saud Alajaji in 2018 after he moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology.   


A post shared by MAZROOD (@mazrood)

Noble and Fresh  

Founded in Riyadh, the fashion brand was another that took part in the Saudi 100 brands exhibition “Saudi Heritage.” Its Salwa jacket design was inspired by the historic palace of the same name in Diriyah.  

Mixed shows  


Hajruss focuses exclusively on two seasons — sun and snow, as they like to call them — creating striking and modern pieces “with comfort and utility in mind.”   


The menswear label, founded by Yossef Bin Afesh, brings to life a “new class of contemporary resort wardrobe through effortless, cozy-yet-elegant fabric blends.”  


MD29 celebrates the Kingdom’s culture and heritage through its traditional designs, elevating them with exquisite craftsmanship and quality of materials.   

Not Boring  

The Saudi streetwear brand was founded in 2017 by Yazeed Abahussein with the aim of collaborating with local and international artists to create pieces inspired by local culture.  

Noura Sulaiman 

The contemporary Riyadh-based luxury label “celebrates refined details and understated sophistication,” inspired by designer Sulaiman’s love of the Kingdom’s culture and society.  


Uscita’s creative designs reflect the label’s motto: “Be Yourself.” Uscita prides itself on inclusivity, and its sleek, timeless pieces “allow people to express themselves through fashion.” 

Naomi Campbell stuns at Red Sea film premiere of ‘The Absence of Eden’

Naomi Campbell stuns at Red Sea film premiere of ‘The Absence of Eden’
Updated 03 December 2023

Naomi Campbell stuns at Red Sea film premiere of ‘The Absence of Eden’

Naomi Campbell stuns at Red Sea film premiere of ‘The Absence of Eden’

JEDDAH: British supermodel Naomi Campbell was among the many celebrities spotted on the red carpet at the MENA premiere of “The Absence of Eden,” on the third day of Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival.

“I love what Red Sea has become and that it’s growing and growing and growing. And it’s really amazing and phenomenal what the team and Mo (Al-Turki) and Jomana (Al-Rashid) have created,” said Campbell in a video posted on the RSIFF Instagram page.

Starring Marvel actress Zoe Saldana, best known for her role in “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Absence of Eden” marks the feature directing debut of her renowned artist husband Marco Perego. The duo was also spotted at the screening. Also gracing the red carpet was the film’s other star, Garrett Hedlund.

Hedlund plays an ICE agent struggling with the moral dilemmas of his job who unites with an undocumented woman fighting to escape a ruthless cartel, played by Saldana, to save the life of an innocent girl.

The Red Sea festival runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9 and boasts 11 categories of films.  

This year’s celebrity-studded festival jury is presided over by director Baz Luhrmann, joined by Swedish-American actor Joel Kinnaman (“Suicide Squad”); Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”); Egyptian actor Amina Khalil (“Grand Hotel”) and Spain’s Paz Vega (“Sex and Lucia,” “The OA”).  

The festival began with a gala screening of Dubai-based Iraqi director Yasir Al-Yasiri’s “HWJN,” modelled on a YA novel by Saudi writer Ibraheem Abbas. Set in modern-day Jeddah, “HWJN” follows the story of a kind-hearted jinn — an invisible entity in Islamic tradition — as he discovers the truth about his royal lineage.

Lebanese actress Njeim spoke to Arab News on the red carpet, saying: “The festival marks a turning point for every ambitious Saudi filmmaker, providing excellent support for young talents to showcase their work at international festivals.”

Dhafer L’Abidine on ‘To My Son’ and the magic of Saudi Arabia’s Abha 

Dhafer L’Abidine on ‘To My Son’ and the magic of Saudi Arabia’s Abha 
Updated 03 December 2023

Dhafer L’Abidine on ‘To My Son’ and the magic of Saudi Arabia’s Abha 

Dhafer L’Abidine on ‘To My Son’ and the magic of Saudi Arabia’s Abha 
  • The Tunisian filmmaker and actor’s latest feature was shot in Saudi Arabia, but will ‘resonate anywhere’ 

DUBAI: There are two things that cinema can do better than any other form of artistic expression. First, it allows us to immerse ourselves in parts of the world we’ve never seen, and second, it empowers us to empathize with people we’ve never met. Tunisian megastar Dhafer L’Abidine’s lyrical directorial effort “To My Son,” which will hold its world premiere on December 3 at the Red Sea International Film Festival, excels at both. After scoring a huge global distribution deal the night the fest began, it is now poised to introduce the world to a part of Saudi Arabia never before immortalized on the big screen.  

For L’Abidine, a cross-cultural performer who has long been one of Arab film and television’s most beloved stars, the Saudi-set film is a “love letter” to a country that has fully embraced him. It also marks a welcome return to a festival that helped launched the now-thriving next phase of his career, after his debut feature, the unforgettable politically-charged drama “Ghodwa,” screened to great acclaim at RSIFF 2021.  

But while his last film was a deeply personal exploration of his home country’s political landscape in the wake of the 2011 Tunisian Revolution, “To My Son,” in which he also stars as a British-Saudi father named Feisal, is a leap outside of his lived experience — which has filled the 51-year-old with a range of emotions ahead of the film’s premiere. 

“I’m thrilled to debut ‘To My Son’ in Jeddah. It’s exciting to share this story with this amazing community, a film that aims to capture humanity as well as the beauty of this astounding place. But there’s also a bit of excited nervousness, to be honest, because it’s so different from anything I’ve attempted before,” L’Abidine tells Arab News. 

Tunisian megastar Dhafer L’Abidine in his debut feature ‘Ghodwa,’ which screened at RSIFF in 2021. (Supplied)

“My last film was about Tunisia, it was an idea born from my own culture. But with this film, I’m exploring a place I’m still discovering even years after first coming here. That carries with it a huge responsibility, which I kept at the front in my mind while making it. I knew that I had to do right by this place, these people, and this culture. It’s always challenging to step out of your comfort zone, but I’m always most attracted to making the choices that feel the least safe and easy, because that’s where I thrive,” he continues.  

The film is set primarily in the Abha, a lush, mountainous city in the southwest of the Kingdom that is beloved by Saudis but largely unknown to an international community that has only just begun to explore the country. L’Abidine first found himself there three years ago filming a hit MBC series and was amazed by the place.  

“I really didn’t know what I was in for. You have certain clichés in your head about Saudi Arabia, and then suddenly you find yourself in the middle of these huge green mountains, all with a very distinct quality to them, and so many historical places to discover. You feel really feel you’re somewhere unlike anywhere else in the world. After I left, I couldn’t get this place out of my head,” he explains.  

Dhafer L'Abidine on the set of ‘To My Son.’ (Supplied)

After the release of “Ghodwa,” L’Abidine was meeting with a producer friend, who was himself considering doing a film in Saudi Arabia. He and L’Abidine began to brainstorm, coming up with an idea that became the bones of the story that the film now explores — the story of a Saudi man living in London who, still mourning the death of his wife, decides to return with his son to the home he left 12 years ago. The man’s father, however, still resents him for having left the family, and refuses to accept him back into the fold.  

“As we sat there and explored the concept, it became clear we needed to really highlight that these are people from two different worlds. And Jeddah and Riyadh — as they’re so cosmopolitan and modern — couldn’t capture that difference. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this needs to be set in Abha.’ I was brought back to this place that I fell in love with that helped me see Saudi Arabia in a different way and I knew that would be valuable to this story, so I went away to write and it all developed from there,” says L’Abidine.  


While Abha helped inspire the story, what became more important to L’Abidine as he developed the film was that it not become a glorified travelogue or tourism campaign. The place, rather, had to serve as a character of sorts on its own, one that could help bring viewers deeper into the emotional journey of the people that live in it. And as he got further into his research of the place’s history, it he realized how universal their struggles really are.  

“Ultimately, this film is an exploration of the humanity that we all share within us, no matter where we’re from. They could be from Abha, Jeddah, Tunis, or Marrakesh. I wanted to make a film that would resonate anywhere, a film that shows that the struggles of the people of Abha — a place cinema has never taken us — are rooted in the same shared experiences that define us all as human beings. We all share stories like this, and the more we focus on that, the closer it brings us,” says L’Abidine.  

In zooming in on characters locked in the struggle between individual fulfillment and duty to family, and in exploring generational divides that require honest discussion in order to get to the heart of what divides them, L’Abidine soon realized this wasn’t just a story about Saudi Arabia, or Arab societies. It was a story about all of us, even himself.  

Quickly, it became clear to him that once again he was making a film about fathers and their children, this time at a period in his life when he is raising a 13-year-old daughter in London who is herself growing up in a world so different that which shaped him back in Tunisia. In the end, as much as he thought he was stepping outside of himself to find the truths of another culture, many of the answers were to be found in his own experience all along.  

“Storytelling is always personal, whether you intend it to be or not. There’s so much in our heads that we have to resolve. And in raising my daughter, there’s so many lessons I’ve had to learn, so much perspective I’ve gained,” says L’Abidine. “I wanted to explore that journey through the main character from both sides, because I think so many people can relate. We all share stories like this.” 

Johnny Depp praises Saudi Arabia's emerging film landscape at the Red Sea International Film Festival

Johnny Depp praises Saudi Arabia's emerging film landscape at the Red Sea International Film Festival
Updated 03 December 2023

Johnny Depp praises Saudi Arabia's emerging film landscape at the Red Sea International Film Festival

Johnny Depp praises Saudi Arabia's emerging film landscape at the Red Sea International Film Festival

JEDDAH: The ongoing Red Sea International Film Festival played host to Hollywood star Johnny Depp as he graced the MENA premiere of "Jeanne Du Barry," a French historical drama directed by French actress and filmmaker Maïwenn, who also stars in the film.

The festival's second day unfolded with the screening of this opulent portrayal of the life of Jeanne du Barry, a working-class courtesan, featuring Depp as French king Louis XV.

During the festival's third day, Depp expressed his admiration for RSIFF, praising the Kingdom for opening up various expressive and creative outlets, emphasizing on its thriving youth culture.

“I believe that what's happening here in in Saudi with regards to various sort of expressive outlets, creative outlets – art, cinema everything – is opening up sort of beautifully. I also think that since opening up, like giving more opportunity to anyone and everyone. What seems to be really thriving beautifully here is youth culture,” he said to Arab News.

Depp found inspiration in the festival's theme, "Your Story, Your Festival," believing it instills hope and confidence in aspiring filmmakers.

Reflecting on his previous visit to Saudi Arabia, where he attended the MDLBeast music festival, Depp said, “It was  like having some drape taken away from my eyes.”

He expressed enthusiasm about the expanding landscape of the filmmaking industry in the kingdom, praising its beauty, mystery, and rich history.

Depp told Arab News, “Just the idea of shooting the film here. It's so beautiful. And there's such mystery, there's so many beautiful vistas and visually stunning but the history… the history that's here is fascinating.”

“I would come here happily to make a film. The word artist is not one that I use for myself, but you can use it for filmmakers. And everybody seems to understand the artists’ lane,” he said.

The film takes audiences on a journey into the court of Louis XV, where the king becomes infatuated with Jeanne du Barry, a courtesan introduced by an ambitious count seeking royal favor. (Supplied)

The film takes audiences on a journey into the court of Louis XV, where the king becomes infatuated with Jeanne du Barry, a courtesan introduced by an ambitious count seeking royal favor.

Depp delivers a mesmerizing performance as Louis, displaying desiccated charisma, while Maïwenn expertly embodies Jeanne, a woman with wit, intellect, and ambitions of her own. The narrative unfolds into a genuinely devoted partnership, marked by real power, until Louis's demise leads to Jeanne's downfall.

In an interview with Arab News, filmmaker Maïwenn shared her deep connection with her character.

“I have spent years dedicating my time reading about her, all her memories, major events, famous sentences. I know everything by word," she told Arab News.

Maïwenn's dedication to the character spans 16 years, creating a film that she describes as a liberating experience, allowing her subconscious to roam freely.


Intrigued by the multifaceted nature of Louis XV, Depp delved into the intricacies of portraying a monarch who had to adapt to different roles within the royal court and on the international stage.

He said during the interview that it was a quite an unusual concept to play a role in French, and his immediate thought was that perhaps a French actor would be more fitting for the role, considering the context.

Despite initial reservations about playing a French character, especially in French, Depp embraced the challenge under Maïwenn's encouragement.

RSIFF extended post-production assistance for the historical drama, marking the foundation's inaugural venture into co-producing a French film. The movie celebrated its global debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

During the festival's opening night on Nov.30, Depp was in attendance alongside notable figures such as Will Smith, Michelle Williams, Diane Kruger, Maya Diab, Alessandra Ambrosio, Aseel Omran, and many others. It was a memorable and star-studded event.

The Red Sea International Film Festival continues to Dec. 9 and boasts 11 categories of films: Special Screenings; Red Sea: Competition; Red Sea: Shorts Competition; Festival Favorites; Arab Spectacular; International Spectacular; New Saudi/ New Cinema: Shorts; Red Sea: New Vision; Red Sea: Families and Children; Red Sea: Series and Red Sea: Treasures.

Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal

Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal
Updated 03 December 2023

Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal

Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal

JEDDAH: Hollywood movies “Fourth Wall” and “Chasing Red” are set to be filmed in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla in 2024 as part of a 10-project deal between Film AlUla — the Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency — and global media company Stampede Ventures.

The announcement was made at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Saturday. Stampede Ventures CEO Greg Silverman and executive director of Film AlUla Charlene Deleon-Jones gave further details of the three-year deal, which also includes the previously announced dramatic comedy “K-Pops!”

“Fourth Wall” follows a former child star from a popular TV sitcom who is kidnapped and wakes up in a complete recreation of the show’s set with the rest of the cast, where she must work through her trauma and recreate iconic moments from the series to stay alive and find a way out.

The announcement was made at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Saturday. (AN/ Huda Bashatah) 

Meanwhile, “Chasing Red” is a romance centered around straight-A student Veronica and wealthy playboy Caleb. It is an adaptation of a book by Filipino-Canadian author Isabelle Ronin and is being directed by Jessika Borsiczky, who told Arab News that the story attracted her because “romance is so universal, especially first love, and especially stories about women finding who they are and then finding who they are in relation to the world.”

Stampede Ventures will be among the first to use Film AlUla’s production facility, which includes a 30,000-square-foot soundstage, backlot, production support buildings, workshops, warehouses, recording studio and training and rehearsal space.

Jessika Borsiczky told Arab News that the story attracted her because “romance is so universal.”  (AN/ Huda Bashatah) 

There will be emphasis on using Saudi talent during the production process, Deleon-Jones said, adding: “One of the most significant parts of what we’re doing is the training and development, because this gives us an opportunity to really develop below-the-line crew in somewhere like AlUla, where traditionally the main careers open to you would have been agriculture. We have a young working population who are vibrant and digitally engaged somewhere which is seen as one of the more remote places, (and now) you have this whole new exciting career path.”

The key, she said, was to prove to talent in Saudi Arabia that the film industry is a “sustainable” career choice. Silverman echoed that, saying the deal was “designed specifically so that people can come in and get a chance to prove (themselves) and then there’s another movie coming in the next month that they can be pulled into.”

Silverman is an entertainment industry veteran known for his track record at Warner Bros. where he shepherded over 125 films to more than $38 billion in worldwide box office, most notably the “Harry Potter” series, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, Zack Snyder’s “300,” Todd Phillips’ iconic “Hangover” trilogy, and “Joker.”

Previous Hollywood productions shot in AlUla include the Gerard Butler-led action-thriller “Kandahar,” directed by Ric Roman Waugh, and “Cherry,” starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

Celebrity-loved footwear designer Amina Muaddi opens pop-up store in Dubai

Celebrity-loved footwear designer Amina Muaddi opens pop-up store in Dubai
Updated 02 December 2023

Celebrity-loved footwear designer Amina Muaddi opens pop-up store in Dubai

Celebrity-loved footwear designer Amina Muaddi opens pop-up store in Dubai

DUBAI: Celebrity-loved footwear designer Amina Muaddi revealed this week that she opened a new pop-up store in Dubai at Kite Beach.


A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

The shoemaker, who is of Jordanian and Romanian descent, has collaborated with clothing retail company Ounass for a four-week pop-up.

“I wanted to create a special experience for our community, a space that feels like an oasis from an outer world,” she wrote, sharing pictures of the place. “Visit the store and shop the collection starting Dec. 1 for the next 30 days. Happy shopping!”


A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

To celebrate the launch, Ounass hosted an exclusive A-list dinner that was attended by rapper Kanye West, his partner Bianca Censori, American singer Ty Dolla $ign and Lebanese actress Nadine Nassib Njeim.